Post-Game: Flames Declaw Panthers

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(Sergei Belski – USA Today Sports)

The Florida Panthers came into the Scotiabank Saddledome as one of the hottest clubs in the National Hockey League, having just seen their 12-game winning streak snapped by the Vancouver Canucks. But rather than look at the Calgary Flames as potential slump-busters or the beginning of a new streak, by the end of the first period the Panthers looked downright terrified of the Flames and ready to go home.

Calgary looked like an unstoppable force tonight, handily beating the Panthers by a 6-0 score in the final game of their current home-stand.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames started off with perhaps their best first period of the season. 56 seconds into the fray, Jiri Hudler corralled the puck after a chaotic zone entry, and then found Sam Bennett just outside the slot for a nice one-timer goal past Roberto Luongo to make it 1-0. Five minutes later, they doubled their lead off a slick Sean Monahan zone entry; Monahan entered the zone with numbers and set up Johnny Gaudreau for a scoring chance. Jonathan Huberdeau blocked a cross-crease pass to Bennett…right back to Gaudreau, who beat Luongo to make it 2-0.

The lead was extended further off a Mikael Backlund foray into the zone, where he handed it off to Bennett for a dangle and a quick shot that beat Luongo to make it 3-0. Florida pushed back a bit after getting down by three, hemming the Flames in for several minutes. But once again, the Flames broke through. This time Deryk Engelland collected an errant pass and went to the net. Luongo made the initial save, but Engelland shuffled the rebound to Bennett, who shelved the puck for his third goal (on four shots) in the period and a 4-0 lead. Shots were 15-5 and attempts 20-13, both for Calgary, in the opening frame.

The second was a bit looser early-on but Flames quickly reeled it in and turned on their defensive game. It was kind of a sleepy period with Flames trying their best to limit Florida’s chances and keep their attackers to the outside. Just when it looked like the period would be completely uneventful, the Flames extended their lead to 5-0 off a head’s up play: Mark Giordano dumped the puck in and Al Montoya (who replaced Luongo to start the period) went out to play it. David Jones collected puck on the side boards and threw it to the front of the net, where a streaking Mason Raymond tipped it in. Shots were 10-4 Calgary in the second, while shot attempts were even at 16-16. (Yes, the Flames were that good at containing Florida.)

The final frame greatly resembled the second, in the sense that the Panthers pressed and couldn’t generate very much and the Flames seemed perfectly content to box out the Panthers and play dump and chase. But once again when it looked like there would be no offense to speak of, Jiri Hudler picked off an errant clearing pass, sent it across the zone to Bennett and a nice deke around Alex Petrovic later, it was 6-0 (and a four-goal game for the rookie sensation). Shots were 11-6 for the Flames, while attempts were 20-20. (Again, Florida kept to the outside quite a bit.)

THE NUMBERS

(All situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Gaudreau 62.16% 80%
Jones 45% 80%
Raymond 47.37% 80%
Monahan 60% 80%
Ferland 58.33% 80%
Giordano 65.22% 71.43%
Brodie 58.14% 63.64%
Granlund 39.13% 50%
Wideman 40.54% 45.45%
Hamilton 60% 45.45%
Russell 43.33% 37.5%
Bollig 47.37% 37.5%
Engelland 48.28% 36.36%
Jooris 46.15% 33.33%
Stajan 52.38% 30%
Backlund 50% 28.57%
Hudler 63.16% 28.57%
Bennett 62.5% 25%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames came out hell-bent on winning the first period against a team that’s dying to head home after a long road trip. They did so, and then didn’t give the Panthers very much the rest of the way. It was a mature, confident 60 minutes of hockey. They took their foot off the gas after the first period, but they certainty played like they were aware of where the puck was – a big departure from some of their previous games that inspired comebacks by the opposition.

RED WARRIOR

Bennett was superb, with the first four-goal performance since Jarome Iginla’s in February 2003, but the rest of the team was also full marks. All four lines generated chances in the first period, and none of the four lines were especially soft on the opposition.

And after how rough his outings were early in the season, it’s kind of nice to see Jonas Hiller get a shutout – if only because he’s been sitting and watching Karri Ramo play for the better part of the last two and a half months.

QUOTABLE

“This game is a total team win. Great performance. Like I said, we played very well in the three zones, we competed. Our discipline has been real good lately. Many, many positives and at the same time, I’m happy for Hills. Big performance, he came up with some key saves in the third period to keep the shutout. Everyone deserves lots of credit.”
-Flames head coach Bob Hartley assesses his team’s performance in their 6-0 win.

“We just said ‘keep playing the same way, don’t give them a sniff.’ They’re a really skilled team, so we knew if we gave them something they would get some energy. As I said, they have some high-skilled players that can make plays, so it was very important that we took care of our own end.”
-Flames center Mikael Backlund on the team’s approach to the second and third periods.

UP NEXT

The Flames hit the road now for a five-game trek that spans Edmonton, New Jersey, Columbus, Carolina and Dallas. The trip kicks off on Saturday night up in Shelbyville when they face the Oilers.

  • Danomitee

    Bennett, what a show he put on. You knew he was going to bust out of his funk since he was playing so well but I don’t think anyone saw a 4 goal performance tonight. Lost in the shadows a bit is the play of Hudler, 2 apples +4, that was really good to see. The disappearance of Jiri Hudler has easily cost us a few games this year, if he plays better that could mean a playoff spot or more value at the deadline.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Pleased to report I was at the game tonight to watch Sam Bennett score 4 goals tonight. The floodgates were due to open, but I never imagined tonight’s result.

    Good to be at a game with hats rainning down from all directions.

  • knappsacked

    Which sam bennett goal is the best? The 4th goal he scored tonight, or the one against pittsburgh when he dangled fleury,letang and his d partner? My vote is for the one against pittsburgh but both were slick.

  • Nick24

    Nice to see a good game from this team, as well as things finally starting to go Sam’s way! Jiri Hudler seemed to have a strong game too, so here’s hoping he can return to form.

    I’m just glad Sam didn’t score four last game because Joe Thornton might have made it weird…

  • hulkingloooooob

    Bennett rocks. For the 2nd game in a row an inaccuracy in the post game regarding FN golden boy Backlund. He did not “hand it off” to Benny for the goal but rather lost posession trying to go through the defenceman and Benny cleaned up his garbage actually went through the defence and scored. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Thought for sure Backlund would be the Red Warrior

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      If you are honest then you should be also saying Bennett lost the handle on his but somehow it went in.

      One thing I wanted to point out was Wideman after Bennett’s forth goal went and said something to the kid. I don’t know what he said but it seemed to me to be something like this; “Nice goal but act like a pro”. Personally that is why a team needs veteran leadership to help keep the kids professional.

          • Cfan in Vic

            Exactly. Bennett just slinked up against the glass and smiled. If that’s the reaction of an 18yo who just scored 4 goals, I’m not sure how much more class one could display.

          • Cfan in Vic

            Damn it. First double post.

            Might as well use it to say that, wow, Bollig wasn’t awful. I think that his increased minutes are largely due to the Panthers being completely worn down, and Bob wanting to keep them that way. If Florida had been well rested, It may not have been so successful for him. That said, he did a decent job with what he was given. Credit where due.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      The reporter on CTV news Calgary called it a backpass by Backlund. I have looked at the highlight a few times, but if he lost possession the puck would not have shot back that fast; it would have died sooner. It was on Backlund’s stick before the puck shot back!

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    Great game tonight love are new first line ferland looks like he could be a very important part of this teams top six love how much room he creates for Johnny

    • cberg

      Yes the top line played MUCH better than the last game, and they weren’t too bad then either. They were all skating, carrying the puck, making passes, finding open ice and seemed to know where each was going to be. Great game and a huge positive for the team on a night of huge positives all around.

  • FlamesRule

    Other things of note-Well, observations that aren’t Bennet scoring 4 effing goals(!!!):

    -Brodie and Gio are good at hockey.
    -Hamilton is good at hockey
    -I’d wear a David Jones jersey
    -Ferland on the top line is great. He had a 2 on one with Johnny, and he kept up. It seems minor, but that alone is great to see. I’m excited to see the chemistry that will develop, because what we are seeing now is brilliant.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Re: Ferlands break with Johnny.

      Very unselfish move by Johnny, trying to thread that pass to Ferly. The obvious and higher % move would clearly have been the shot, given the defender’s position. But at 4-0, he decided that Ferly should get one. Class play. Too bad it didn’t work out.

      What a game!

  • beloch

    I’m not a backlund fan manly because he has all the tools to be an offensive threat but hasn’t really turned into one but I must say he and Bennett really complement eachother and hopefully they play together till Bennett moves to center

  • flames2015

    Hell of a game to be at tonight! Definitely exciting to see Bennett get his hat trick and the cherry on top! A game like this just builds confidence all around for the guys which is great. Perfect 60. Hope to see them take the momentum on the road!

  • Hudler, Bennett, Backs – what a very good 2nd line they made tonight!

    I know it is just one game and they need to sustain this somewhat but if they can, where do you put Frolik when he is ready?

    Bollig was not good tonight. Wideman was the worst D by my eye.

    • cberg

      If the top two lines continue to produce and look good then ST Frolik could go with Stajan. In the LT you have to make a decision on Hudler, and if they trade him, Frolik can take that spot.

      Bollig actually played one of his best games ever, from my eyes. He led a rush into the O zone a couple times then set up a guy closer to the net, which I haven’t really seen before, and he laid a Ferland-style hit on Florida 2-3 separate times. It was actually impressive.

      Finally, I agree Wideman may have been the “worst” D out there, but only in the sense that the others were better. I believe the whole D corps played pretty well. Like, how bout that Engelland semi-breakaway then assist ob Bennett’s 3rd goal of the night?!

  • aflame13

    For the curious (I haven’t looked into this very long), the reason for Hudler’s lacklustre play so far this season is more than just “luck” I believe. If you take a look at where he’s shooting from, how many shots he takes and what kind of shots he’s taking, you’ll quickly notice that he’s taking less shots, and he’s not taking shots that he normally has for the last few years. His % of wrist and snap shots is much less than it has been, which leads me to believe he’s not comfortable taking them, either physically or mentally. There’s more to the explanation than “luck”.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    Currently living in the UK so I don’t catch that many games. Had an extremely late night at the office (or early morning if you wanna’ go all glass half full) so I put the game on one of the TV’s in the background. Created 10 new hockey, Flames, & Sam Bennett fans in 1 period. Most rewarding thing I’ve ever done at work.

  • SickFloBro

    Obviously Bennett isn’t going to score 4 every night, but I think it really helps that he was playing with established NHL talents.

    I don’t know if I’m recalling this correctly, but does anyone here remember Dustin Boyd? He won gold with the Canadian WJC team, and was a stud in the AHL for us. Sutter perpetually played him in a 3rd-4th line role… I can remember him suiting up on a line with McGrattan on a few occasions. He got a couple of looks in a more prominent role, I believe… but he never really got a good shot.

    He should have been an offensively-oriented player for us, but his offensive production and development were really stalled by his deployment, IMO.

    I’m not comparing Bennett and Boyd – two very different players, obviously. But I think it goes to show that, especially for young/developing players, they need to be put in good situations with complimentary players to succeed.

    Just my two cents.

  • Cfan in Vic

    That was one well executed game all around. I actually didn’t mind Bollig, think he did his job and actually carried the puck quite a lot.

    I’m not sure how your bring Big Joe back into the line-up after a game like that?

  • Byron Bader

    Bennett started in the ozone 25% of the time and had majestic corsis and scored 4 goals and could have had 5 or 6. That is something else right there.

    It would be great to see Bennett down the middle but Backlund and Bennett is a very good thing. Hudler on that other side could be the piece that makes that line go and turns it into a legit 2nd scoring line.

    Frolik should be used in a top 6 capacity as well but Ferland has looked great so far on the 1st line … so that’s a fun problem to have.